Return of the Blind Deadaka El Ritorno de los Muertos Sin Ojos / Return of the Blind Dead / Return of the Evil Dead

Return isn’t really a sequel to Tombs, though it might be considered a prequel — it could explain how Berzano came to be deserted and shunned. Unlike Tombs, Return shows Berzano to be a vibrant rural community. 500 years [sic] before the movie’s main action, the citizens of Berzano rebelled against the satanic Templars, and burned them at the stake. In another departure form the mythology of the original, in this movie it’s the peasants themselves who put out the eyes of the Knights, so that they will not find their way back from the land of the dead.
As the movie proper begins, the natives of Berzano are preparing the festival that will mark the 500th anniversary of the downfall of the Templars. In comes Tony Kendall, playing an American pyrotechnician who’s come to do the fireworks for the fiesta. Actually, the fireworks continue long after Tony’s moved on to other action, so I’m not really sure what his job is. What’s more important is that he has a history with the woman who is the mayor’s aide.

Now, this woman has been playing a little game of sexual politics with the Mayor and his Lead Thug. The Mayor (Fernando Sanchez) looks remarkably like an overweight Jess Franco, and his Henchman (Luis Barboo) is the poor man’s James Coburn. The girl in the middle, though… I don’t know what I can say about our heroine. I suppose I should merely point out that standards of feminine beauty change radically from place to place, from time to time.

…umm…

No; I can’t do it. I can’t be charitable. For the love of God, she looks old enough to be Tony Kendall’s mother. Hell, she looks old enough to be the Mayor’s mother. She has a wide, sloping forehead and eyes that seem too wide for her face. I suppose it’s a good thing to feature a leading lady who is remarkably plain. It’s more believeable: after all, men fall obsessively in love with women who aren’t gorgeous starlets. But… but… just LOOK at them. You’ve got big, burly, masculine Tony Kendall, and a co-star who looks like a middle-aged housewife from suburban Madrid. When she gets all melty in his arms, it looks like gerontophilia. Suffice it to say that THIS is the movie you should watch immediately after As Good As It Gets, or any other film featuring a young actress who ends up with a male star three times her age. It’ll give the male critics who don’t see the problem something to think about.

Suffice it to say that this mousy middle-aged woman has managed to work the Mayor and his Henchman into a lather. Then along comes Kendall, back into her life, and he too proves unable to resist her charms. The Mayor, stung, has Henchman and his cronies beat up poor Tony, but before the job can be completed, some disturbing news comes from the train station outside town…

Off on the outskirts of Berzano, a couple has met for some surreptitious nookie. While the girl’s father is in town, at the festival, her suitor — José Thelman, Pedro the smuggler from Tombs — sneaks in. In this movie, at least, he doesn’t have to rape the girl. However, he ends up just as dead, because the Templars have come back. What a shame their house is on the road to Berzano!

The girl is quicker than the Knights, however. She climbs out a window and steals one of the Templar’s horses (someone tried this in Tombs, but with far less success). She manages to get to the Berzano station, where the stationmaster (played by the actor who was the Old Professor in Tombs) congratulates her on her horse’s costume. His smile turns to a slack-jawed gape when the girl removes the horse’s hood, revealing the mummified face beneath. Zombie horses — yow!

As the Templars approach (and the warning is sounded by various onlookers), the people of Berzano, the Mayor and his cronies, and our stalwart hero sit on their hands and do nothing. Instead, they wait until the Templars have sealed off the Main Square and begun slaughtering the townspeople. THEN they figure they ought to do something…

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